Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rainy Wednesday and NEAT

Thankfully the particularly rainy weather held off until Wednesday meaning that I was able to enjoy my birthday. Wasn’t it nice of Mother Nature to be good to me this year? I guess she was feeling sorry for me since I was turning 49. As you probably guessed I was not looking forward to this birthday because it means the big 50 is the next one up. I know that it is a little ridiculous to be worried about a birthday a year out but one year is a relatively short period in time. What can I say, I like to plan. LOL

Thank you for all the birthday wishes. It was very nice of you to take the time to wish me a happy birthday and I appreciate your taking the time to do that.

The weather on Wednesday was a little less than stellar shall we say. It rained off and on most of the day and there was a lot of rain. Being the weather wimp that I am the rain meant that today was an indoor day for me. However having my day inside meant that I did get quite a bit done at home and that is a very good thing since I have been behind on every one of my to-do items. By the end of the day I was feeling a little less out of control. Progress is good right? ;-)

There was nothing special to talk about the food on Wednesday. I had a green smoothie, green salad with berries and almonds, an orange and Brazil nuts, roasted red pepper salad, and split pea soup. With my schedule lately I have been sticking to very simple healthy food that can be quickly prepared.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT):

I wanted to discuss this briefly for those that are new to the concept of NEAT. If I were going to put this into my own words I would say that it is the calories you burn when you aren’t trying to exercise. In essence what studies have shown is that thinner people burn more calories all day long. The reason for this is that they are more active and that is probably because activity is easier for them so they don’t avoid it. For those of you that have sedentary jobs/lives but want to burn more calories I have some ideas to share of things that either currently work or have worked in the past for me. If you aren’t active now don’t try to add all of these at once and overwhelming yourself:

At work:

• Instead of sending email walk to a coworkers office when you need to share something. The same thing goes for when your first urge is to pick up the phone and call a coworker.

• Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you are only going up a few flights take the stairs. I am always amazed by the number of people that will take the elevator up one of two floors. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a great habit to get into.

• Use an out of the way bathroom at work. I used to pick one that was at least one flight up or even further away. This is one of those actions that become second nature after a while.

• Have a walking meeting instead of sitting around a conference room table. You will be surprised by how much most people like this one. I never had a coworker say no to this idea. Everyone likes to get some fresh air and loves the idea of burning a few calories during work.

• Go for a walk before lunch. Decide to go for a quick walk every day before lunch. By doing this you are developing a healthy habit and increasing your overall daily activity. If the weather isn’t conducive to walking use the hallway at work. If you really want to commit to this activity get people at work to go with you. Many people are more likely to keep a commit that they have made to someone one. If you are that person get a walking buddy.

• Instead of coffee break have a walking break. Even a quick 5 minute walk increases your calorie burn and boosts your immune system.

• If you have to talk on the phone use the opportunity to burn more calories. You can do this by standing up, walking around your office our using a dumbbell or exercise band you have stashed in your desk. I also liked to do seated V-crunches by pulling my knees to my chest while sitting in my chair. It helps to close your door otherwise your co-workers will wonder what you are up to. ;-)

• Park your car as far away from your office door as feasible, ride your bike to work or get off the bus a few stops early. While I can almost hear the collective groans on this but it won’t add much time to your travel time but it will increase your daily activity. When you add enough of these habits to your day it will have a noticeable impact. Try to think of it this way. When you burn just 100 calories more each day that is equivalent to 10.4 pounds lost in a year. We can all burn at least an additional 100 calories everyday without a Herculean effort.

At home:

• Do simple exercises during commercials when you are watching TV. I keep my exercise step in the family room and use it when I feel like I need more movement. Planks, crunches and push-ups are also simple to do during commercials. If you exercise during every commercial before you know it you have gotten much more movement in than you realize. Every opportunity to burn calories adds up. Remember the 100 calorie per day calculation.

• Store things in out of the way places where you have to go get them. The overflow pantry is on the third floor of my house and that means extra trips up and down the steps. To get more exercise I also only grab one thing at a time so that I need to make more trips up the steps. It is one of those little things I do to increase my daily activity.

• Walk around while you are on the phone. If you weigh 125 pounds and stand for 15 minutes versus sitting you will burn an additional 5 calories. The more you weigh the bigger the calorie difference. While it may look silly but I have also been known to do squats while on the phone. Though most of us sit to talk on the phone that isn’t the only option.

• While you are in the kitchen stirring pots and pans or waiting for things to evaporate/cook sneak in a little exercise. I like to do squats, rear leg lifts and dips. You can sneak in any number of exercises during the day this same way.

• Walk or ride your bike to run errands whenever possible. I am sure many of you have realized that I do this all the time. I love to walk to the grocery store and to the library. Carrying things home adds to the calorie burn of this activity. Not only is this better for you but it is also better for the environment too. *woo hoo*

• Fire your gardener and/or cleaning person and do those things yourself. Otherwise your gardener and cleaning person are going to be fit and healthy and you are going to be a lump. When you look at gardening and cleaning as another opportunity to get in some activity it takes on a different feel … it works for me. ;-) Though I will admit I do have my days when I consider a cleaning person and then I snap out of it. However if having help gets you to the gym more often than disregard this suggestion. Most of my friends with help aren’t using the extra time to work out more, though a few of them seem to be.

I hope this gives you some ideas for how to work in a little activity throughout your day. I think that most of us tend to do exactly the opposite and look for ways to decrease our activity (like carrying multiple items upstairs in a single trip or parking closer to our destination), but when you look for ways to get more activity into your day I think you will find that there are opportunities everywhere.

If you want to calculate the calorie benefit of these activities there is an activity calculator here that you might want to play around with.

Happy thoughts:

• It was good to get a few items crossed off my to-do list on Wednesday. I was starting to feel like I was doing nothing but treading water and that is never a good feeling. Standing still is not my style at all in case you hadn’t noticed.

• I am still glowing from my birthday. It was a really great day and I love that Dan took the day off to spend with me. In the past I would always try to take my birthday off and it was a nice treat to have my hubby with me all day.

• We are slowing moving our sleep schedule up and have shifted it by a couple hours. By Monday we will be back to the gym at 6am. While I will never be a morning person I like knowing that Dan will get a workout in before work. I don’t mind working out at home after he leaves for work but I want him to work exercise into his day and that is my goal now. BTW I still like my TRX if you are curious. ;-) I can’t wait for the rain to stop so that I can take it to the park and get some strength training in outside. Doesn’t that sound like fun? :-)

• My broken toe is vastly improved and I can now wear my running shoes again. It is nice to have the ability to get back to my long morning walks. I really missed those when I couldn’t wear supportive shoes.

Signing out:

Writing my post the next day is working out very well. It has been helpful to have extra time to contemplate what I am going to write. For those of you that also have a daily blog I recommend giving yourself more time to write.

I have a pot of Middle Eastern seasoned chickpea, tomato and spinach soup on the stove tonight for dinner. There is nothing like soup and salad for dinner. When the weather starts to get warmer I tend to naturally eat a lighter diet.

Tomorrow (Friday) I need to run my usual errands but I have already started the next post so that means you should expect to see something from me later in the day. I hope you are having a great week and have something fun planned for the weekend. We are expecting temperatures in the 80’s starting Saturday so I am hoping for a little outdoor fun. Let’s hope that my hubby doesn’t have to work again. If the weather holds up Saturday looks dry so that might be a good day for a picnic or a bike ride on the rail trail providing the Preakness traffic isn’t crazy.

Talk to you again tomorrow. I hope you have a happy and healthy evening.


  1. Happy Birthday!!! Since you have been eating so "clean" you are probably really 5 years younger:)
    Thanks for all the effort you put into your posts..Very much appreciated! Coco

  2. I love these ideas! Thanks!

    Also...happy belated birthday!


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